Fasting as prayer

Fasting

Fasting is the intentional restriction of or a reduction of food, drink or some pleasurable activity with an intention of cleansing one’s body, mind or spirit. Fasting for health purposes is typically monitored by a health professional. If an individual is considering fasting for inner-prayerful-spiritual purposes and has any health issues, which may be aggravated by abstinence a physician or nutritionist consultation is recommended, appropriate and highly encouraged.

Beginings

Fasting for spiritual purposes is different from fasting for health purposes because spiritual fasting is not done just to cleanse one’s body. Fasting for spiritual purposes is done to respond in faith to a call to a deeper, more intense and consistent prayer life. There are a number of reasons an individual will be inclined to prayerfully fast. The most common inspiration for fasting is a difficult situation and the solution to this situation is either not obvious or seemingly impossible. One should not take up fasting for sport, fun or because one is fasting to follow an external set of rules or obligations without the supervision of a spiritual director.

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Counseling?

yellow flower

Is counseling useful when one is helping oneself? Like all things that are a combination of art and science, the answers: “It Depends.” What does it depend on you might wonder? I depends upon you of course. If you have never been exposed to solutions to the difficulties you’re going through counseling would be useful. If you know exactly what you need to do, then it is likely that the solution to your problem is more about motivation than understanding. So it depends on your ability to motivate yourself from within and this is known as intrinsic motivation. If your intrinsic motivation is sufficient to get you started and to get you finished, then you have your answer. Counseling is not be necessary for you. However; counseling still may be very useful. If you are extrinsically motivated, meaning you need someone else to provide your minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day motivation; then you know some type of external guidance or support is necessary. If Self Helping Self is your goal, you must be intrinsically or internally motivated.

As we have already discussed, intentional self-change comes from the abilities to control these three factors:

  • Time
  • Motivation
  • Knowledge

If you are unable to control any one of these factors and personal change is your goal you will require some form of support. Support can be found in the form of friends, family, and counselors. Depending upon the person, sometimes all three are required.

It’s obvious that the support needs to take the form of someone who has your best interest, experience in solving successfully your issues, and has reasonably good communication skills. Their communication skills must include nonjudgmental listening. It is also good if they have successfully made the personal change that you are seeking to make.

iStock_000000429918LargeAdditionally, it is useful if the counselor or friend has a similar value or belief system.

Counseling usually involves money if that’s an issue then the other two support systems, family or friend, are your obvious choice.

Self-Helping Self

Is self-help possible?

a problemImproving oneself often comes by reading. And reading leads a person to their favorite source of reading material and that can be a library, a bookstore, or this blog on the Internet. People who are serious about self-improvement can be found in each of these places searching the “self-help” aisles for a topic that catches their attention.

Does self-help really help? After all, the limitation that one’s trying to improve belongs to the Self who will be helping you to change. So even with an exterior source of inspiration or help, like a blog or a book, the understanding and ability of the helper still belongs the Self who is seeking the change.

So the question is “Can a person help themselves with the problem that they themselves have when they themselves are the problem?”

The answer to this question is, “It depends.” “What,” you may ask, “does it depend upon?” It depends upon the structure one uses to view the Self and the change. If one is associated with structure that contains the limitation, change cannot occur. If one uses a different structure, like a Self-Observer, then change is possible and with right tools likely.

Let’s consider the question, “What is change?” The answer is, “Change is the modification of a behavior.”

Why does a person select a specific behavior to change? Ever increasing discomfort, suffering, and pain are the reasons the Self requires to change the Self.
Suffering Self
The pain must be causing the Self or someone the Self cares about a considerable amount difficulty. Until the suffering is sufficient the Self will hide the behavior which is causing pain from itself. This is because while engaging in the problem causing behavior; the Self will ignore, justify or blame the pain generated by the behavior. Every ignored pain will continue to increase until it has risen to an sufficient level warranting change. One of the absolute laws of self-change is, “It is only when one takes responsibility for causing a behavior that a willingness to change the behavior can occur.”

A solution is always hidden from the person while they are engaging in the harmful behavior. As an example, a sober alcoholic knows they need to change their drinking behavior. They will usually agree that drinking is doing them no good, even as they are planning to continue drinking. To prevent themselves from taking responsibility and changing their addiction, they will make excuses and exceptions for themselves in one of any number of self-justifying ways. These exceptions and various forms of behavioral self-justification prevent them from becoming 100% personally responsible for the circumstances resulting from drinking. Additionally, the alcohol and other mind altering chemicals prevent a person from accessing the “Observer” which is required for change.
a key to success
One seldom if ever admits one has a problem because one is busy denying and projecting the problem onto others, their circumstances or their history. It is useless to tell a person that they have a problem until they are willing to take responsibility for both their behavior and its consequences. The only two useful behavioral responses to any person with a problematic behavior is to love them like they are or to leave them.

How does the Self choose to become responsible for a problem? The answer is always the same; suffering. The suffering must be so intense that it creates within the person a willingness to become an observer to the behavior causing the suffering. As the observer, the Self can view the behavior in an objective form and find within themselves the willingness to change this behavior from within.

From the right perspective, which is the observer’s perspective, the Self can help the Self change an unwanted behavior, and self-helping Self is possible.

HOPE